The End


It was nice being an author.

But it is over now.

Well, I enjoyed it while it lasted. I hope you did too. Of course sf authors have seen this coming. We just never saw it coming for us.

And we all thought it would be at some distant future date.

Something to worry about then.

Eheu! Fugaces labuntor anni as the great Horace said (personally I think that’s rather a rude thing to say about Annie, but Horace enjoys the protection of being dead). We all thought automation would take the jobs of the other professions first. That the writing of fiction, along with the other creative professions would be a more difficult task than saying ‘do you want fries with that’, or delivering Philosophy lectures, or even designing better mousetraps.

How wrong we were. According to Professor Krisi-Marja Saar-Von Smeullendorf, the director of   research at the Voiderveng Literary Science Institute in Uppsala, Finland, her team are now in final testing phase of what she describes as ‘the Ultimate reading experience – a program that analyses the reader’s sales and marketing data, internet search history, and reading choices, to produce individually tailored ‘perfect books’.

Each book will mirror the individual reader’s tastes, biases and preferences perfectly. “Our test readers felt that this was the perfect book* for them, almost as if the book was written for them. They were desperate to buy anything else by the author. The good thing is, when the program is hooked up Toshida A13 mnemic chip ($1.20) inserted into an Apple Mac running Scrivener, and a select download of 18 books to the reader’s taste, it can produce a new novel every seven minutes and nineteen seconds.”

When asked what she thought would happen to the authors, editors and owners of Publishing houses, Prof. Saar-Von Smeullendorf suggested that perhaps they could learn to code.

In the light of this, I think I will learn Morse. Again.

Image: pixabay

*We have obtained the first page of 23 of the books produced by the program for different readers of fantasy. Oddly, all started with the words ‘In a hole in the ground there lived…’


  1. Oh dear, oh dear! Whatever shall I do?

    The scary thing is, such a program can probably be given the favorite 18 books full of POC-LBTGQ . . . eh too early in the morning to remember all of what goes in there . . . issues and all the competing victim requirements will over-clock the machine, producing a rash of fires in Apple Macs. Who knows how many lives could be lost to this horror!

  2. I see a book in there. Maybe a cozy mystery where a group of authors all take a train ride with the lead programmer who gets murdered.

    There’s a detective on the train, he could be a foreigner, and maybe have a big mustache.

    Of course, you’ll have to come up with a twist ending.

    1. Oooh, I know what the ending should be!

      Spoiler alert:

      It turns out that all of the authors were recent Hugo winners. They were describing their novels to the programmer, and the programmer killed himself rather than listen to any more of them. The Sad Puppies are then forced to acknowledge the importance of the writers who win Hugos, admitting that none of them could have so saved the future of writing.

    2. I think my suggestion for an ending fell into the WP black hole, so let me try again:

      It turns out all the writers on the train were recent Hugo winners. They had been telling the programmer all about their novels until finally he decided that he couldn’t take it any more and killed himself rather than listen to another non-story about gay polar bears. The Sad Puppies are forced to admit that yes, the Hugo winners matter and had in fact saved sci-fi in a way that the Puppies never could.

      1. Not content to beat up the reader, The Hugo writers had so honed their skillz that the narratives became fataL!

    1. The title reminded me (but then, I baked a cake for today… “Red Velvet” [not real red velvet, the chocolate cake with too much dye that usually is found], cream cheese frosting, and the reddish dusting atop? Paprika. I wonder how many at work will realize what day it is BEFORE sampling.) And yet I recall a Science News story of ages ago about an AI system that was fed a few Stephen Foster tunes in hopes it generating some music Stephen Foster might have made. It was brilliant failure: it kept generating tunes Stephen Foster did make.

      1. Hmm, $SPOUSE bought some fresh-ground paprika; it’s more potent than the dated cayenne* we have. That’d be some interesting cake. Hope you have your running shoes handy.

        (*) Protip: the stuff in plastic jars loses a lot of volatiles rather quickly. Glass for the win.

        1. That’s the neat part. I put it out in the break room just as I left. When I hear of the aftermath, it’ll be from the folks who were warned off, unless, of course, it works (and it just might).

          The funny thing is some years ago I made not a funnel cake, but a fennel cake… and $BIGBOSS was warned of it. $BIGBOSS had a meeting and suggested others try the cake…

          What, me evil?

      2. I’m pretty sure Red Velvet Cake was an April Fool’s joke to begin with.

        One of my favorite desserts was called Red Velvet Cake before dyed chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting was a thing.
        Short version:
        13″ x 9″ pan, lube it.
        Empty a bag of frozen raspberries in the pan.
        Box of devil’s food cake mix, mixed per instructions, poured over raspberries.
        2 packages of raspberry gelatine, mixed up at twice concentration, with a Tbsp corn starch, poured over batter.
        Bake until set (don’t expect anything to come out clean!)
        Grate 2oz. Semi-sweet chocolate over hot cake.
        Dust with powdered sugar when cool.
        Serve with a spoon.

    2. With this special red velvet cake, I would roar twice. First in reaction. Then in laughter.

  3. “*We have obtained the first page of 23 of the books produced by the program for different readers of fantasy. Oddly, all started with the words ‘In a hole in the ground there lived…’”

    Better than Lorem Ipsum, I guess.

  4. Wait. You mean I can now write the books I want to read with no effort, and more important, when I want to read ’em? Sign me up!!

    Oh, wait. It runs on a Mac. Never mind!

  5. You had me going there there for a second, Dave. 😡

    Fortunately nothing bothers me today, there is a new baby fur-kid at Chez Phantom, currently passed out on my fleecy, previously going upside-down and doing the wild eyed look while grrgnarring (totally a word) on my fingers with the tiny needle teeth.

    So really I don’t care a damn about anything. ~:D

    But, on a slightly more serious note, the computer-generated content thing -is- a reality in the music biz.

    Take-home quote: “A major label [Warner Music] made the decision to distribute and monetize automated audio, and it got 20 hours’ worth of material for relatively little labor and expense that will now live alongside traditional music on playlists that are only viable because of streaming. Other labels will soon follow.”

    Computer-generated background audio/soothing noise for the streaming generation now does not require a human being to write and perform it. Therefore this puts a downward pressure on musician’s pay more than anything else.

    Important to note that this software does not create great symphonies or even crappy pop tunes. More like electronic whale songs. Stuff they host on streaming “chill” channels for free, to get some advertising hits. It is economically viable only because the production cost is so low.

    If anyone here is interested in creating instant crappy pop tunes, I discovered a software package called Ableton for the PC, Mac and iPad, which comes with a little cheapie keyboard controller by Novation. There a one-hand version called LaunchKey that costs $125CDN, there’s a larger 61 key keyboard for ~$350CDN. You can hook up to sample libraries of drum sounds, instruiment sounds, even base beats and bass guitar rhythms, and rip out little tunes in a few minutes. #YoungRelative can’t play piano but managed the first tune in half an hour.

    Using tech to create leverage.

  6. Computer-generated books reminds me of something I read about recently:

    The show was produced by a computer and was cancelled before the first episode finished airing. Of course, computers have advanced somewhat since then, but I have to wonder how successful robo-books will actually be. If nothing else, there’s a great opportunity to cater to the readers who will only want to read stuff by actual people.

    1. “Of course, computers have advanced somewhat since then, but I have to wonder how successful robo-books will actually be.”

      Thanks to Moore’s Law and the amazing increases in computing speed and capacity, the new computer books will be burnt before they’re even written!

      1. We’ve certainly made great strides in pre-emptive outrage . . .

        1. Yes indeed, books are being burned before they’re released for sale these days. But think of all the savings if they could be burnt before the tedious writing, editing and printing parts! Now that’s efficiency! ~:D

  7. And here I thought I was being clever by bringing in sugar free gummy bears to work. Sigh. I have so much to learn.

      1. Especially if someone gorged themselves. The various -tols tend to have…interesting…effects if consumed in excess.

  8. “a program that analyses the reader’s sales and marketing data, internet search history, and reading choices, to produce individually tailored ‘perfect books’.”

    Theoretically, it’s possible. However, I haven’t been very impressed with such samples to date. And that also applies to creations of the automated music industry and automated graphic arts industry.

    “Each book will mirror the individual reader’s tastes, biases and preferences perfectly.”

    Which is wonderful if your tastes are only interpolative in nature. I prefer books that go beyond the known.

  9. I wonder what kind of farrago it would produce from my list of favorites: That Hideous Strength, Galactic Patrol, The Hour of the Dragon, World of Null-A,The Lord of the Rings, A Princess of Mars,More Than Human

    1. You’d give it a blue screen of death.

      Seriously, I think that most of the folks that hang out here have reading taste that are as eclectic as yours.

    1. More likely to be used by robo-books trying to fool the public into thinking they’re written by real authors . . .

  10. Argh! You got me… I was my guard here in Oz with it already being the 2nd.

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